BASW the Association of our aspirations
The best of intentions and all that - I had been hoping to post at least once a week but had been forgetting that one takes time off occasionally. Then catching up, in this email age, becomes the next issue…
Still, I had a pleasant few days away last week, which ended in the Dog and Partridge in Sheffield, once more the venue for a pleasant evening with my fellow 1987-1989 social work students, though for the first time, with most of them, since 1989.
The pub had changed slightly less than the former students – former social work practitioners too I’m somewhat sad to say. The nine (out of a course of 26, not bad for a mini-reunion arranged at shortish notice) comprised social work managers, a lecturer, a trainer and a consultant, even a solicitor, but no one at what has come to be called the front line. (I’m one of those dubious about such language – see the fascinating article about this by PSW’s editor, Shahid Naqvi, in the current issue.)
The previous week had seen the latest BASW Council meeting take place, and as well as the usual governance business* we engaged in a more strategic discussion focusing on our aspirations for BASW’s future.
One of mine is that 25 years from now, social work course reunions will find people swapping stories of their current social work practice, and not just of management and teaching. It does seem to be something about social work. I had a very pleasant Facebook exchange recently with my first social work manager, post-qualification, who had gone further up the management pole, but then finished his working career recently – as a community psychiatric nurse (he had been qualified in both professions). Experienced practitioners are worth their weight in gold and along with many others I have always thought it was one of social work’s imperatives to find ways to encourage people to stay in practice.
I think this is something that BASW can do something about, certainly if we take a long-term view. Going back to the Council meeting, we engaged in discussion about what BASW would be doing and how it would be structured in four years’ time, if it were the Association of our aspirations. This was a step towards developing a vision for BASW that can be shared with members at the AGM next year, in order to shape this vision into firm plans for our future.
Those discussions next April (date still to be fixed) will be a major part of the ongoing consultation with members – ‘ongoing’ because we intend consultation to be a process, not a discrete event. So we want to consult now, too, about the development of the vision.
Something more formal than this blog post will be on its way to members, but why not respond right here, right now?
Leave comments below this post, in response to the following questions, and you can influence others reading this, whose own contributions can influence you in turn.
We looked at five (overlapping) broad areas that had emerged as a way of grouping together what the incoming Council members had identified as key challenges currently facing BASW:
1. Strategy and operations – what BASW actually does
2. Organisational structure – how BASW is structured
3. Communication and marketing – how BASW communicates, internally and externally
4. Competitive positioning – how BASW relates to other social work-related organisations within the UK
5. Members – how BASW increases its membership, and looks after and involves its members
And the questions we asked ourselves, concerning these challenges – suppose we had responded to them in a way that made BASW the acknowledged leader of the social work profession by 2018, what would BASW be doing? How would it be structured? What would people in and outside BASW be noticing about it?
Just a step, but an important one, I think, and if you want to join us in taking it, please do respond to any of these questions in a comment below.
*Just to add, as a footnote, a number of members have been asking for more transparency from Council and within the Association more generally, and – to be transparent about it – this blog is in part a response to that. It has been agreed that Council minutes will be placed on to the website, so those members who wish to read about its business can do so. I will be sure to refer to the more business parts of Council’s discussions in future blog posts, but wanted to concentrate on these questions about our vision for BASW here.